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Old 08-22-2008, 02:43 PM
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Door panel covering

I bought the "Custom Auto Interiors" by Don Taylor book (bad idea cause now I am full of wild ideas) and read the section where they make their own door panels. In that section they explain to cover your selected panel with closed cell foam and then you can cut out an indentation pattern by cutting "V" shaped grooves where the sides of the "V" are cut at 45 degree angles. My question is, is how do you make an accurate cut right at a 45 degree angle? I assume it is important to get your angle amount correct since this is the angle the vinyl (or whatever material) will follow as it covers the foam. Any tips or tricks on accurate angle cutting and even any tips on cutting straight lines into the foam with a razor blade? Thanks.

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Old 08-22-2008, 03:40 PM
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Use a brand new sharp blade in a utility knife. I like to use Irwin Unbreakable Bi-metal Utility Blades, they stay sharper longer, and don't break. My local True Value Hardware store sells them, but they are far cheaper in bulk and online. I also don't ever use a utility knife with a retractable blade. You don't have to bear down hard on the utility knife, the closed cell foam is firm enough that it cuts easily. Obviously, for cutting a straight line, use a straight edge for the knife to follow. For curved lines, lay them out with 1/4" masking tape and follow the outside edge of the the tape. You can even do that for straight lines once you get the hang of it. That tip should have been in Don Taylor's book. The 45* angle is more of a practice makes perfect type of deal, you just have to get the hang of it. The utility knife is really laid flat to get a 45* angle in 1/8" foam. Whatever fabric you glue over the grooves will soften the edges of the grooves, so they don't have to be absolutely perfect. Just make sure you have the grooves cleaned out as good as you can before you glue on your fabric. The second picture is a scrap of navy blue Ultraleather glued to 1/8" closed cell foam. You don't have to do this, but I stitched in the middle of both grooves which I think makes a neat detail. If you plan out your panel so that you can get it through your sewing machine, you can do the whole panel this way.Good luck.
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Old 08-23-2008, 12:04 PM
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Thanks for the tips Dan! My local Lowes has that exact knife you mentioned....have to pick one up. Your Ultraleather panel looks very nice by the way, I like the stitiching you did in the seam. Unfortunately, I dont have a sewing machine.

Was wondeing how one could incorporate a two diffenet colors of Vinyl into the panel covering? Like on your panel pictured, say you wanted the area inbetween the grooves a black vinyl and the rest grey or the original color you have shown....Is there a way to do that without sewing? I guess one could just cover the "inbetween the grooves area" in black and then cut the excess off of the black down the center of the groove. You would probaly have to leave excess on the grey (in the groove area) so that then you trim the excess of both the grey and the black as you cut down the seam. Boy, that seems hard though to gett a nice joining line between the two different colored fabrics.
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Old 08-23-2008, 07:46 PM
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The knife is not the important part, the blades are. I did that small panel in about 10 minutes at the end of the day on Friday, just to show how to do what you asked about, straight lines and curves. The stitching in the groove is a detail I added, you don't need to do it. If you want to isolate colors, or thicknesses for that matter, there is a procedure to do that, but it has to be planned ahead. There is more than one way to do it. The old expression " there's more than one way to skin a cat " applies here. I will post an example of combining different colors on Monday.
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Old 08-24-2008, 01:41 PM
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Awesome Dan!

Thanks for taking the extra time out to show us!
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Old 08-25-2008, 09:13 AM
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O.K. This is going to be quick and as simple as I can do it. To segregate colors and /or shapes using closed cell foam, you have to do some planning. Cut your door panel to size, and lay out where you want the different shapes and colors to go. You're generally going to want to have the panel be the simplest and thinnest where the door handle and window handles are located. Here I just marked out a shape and transferred it to some panel board. To make this panel all the same thickness, I used 1/4" foam for the outside shapes, and glued a piece of 1/8" foam to a piece of 1/8" panel board to use for the different colored insert. That makes all three sections the same thickness. If you want different thicknesses, you need to adjust your padding accordingly. Then I simply glued the fabric over the 1/4" foam on the two outside areas of the panel. After that I covered the center section in a lighter blue color and wrapped the fabric all the way around and glued the fabric to the back of the panel board. The next step is to glue the insert to the open area in the main panel. Voila, you have two different colors and a decorative shape that looks like it's all one piece.
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Old 08-25-2008, 09:14 AM
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Ran out of room for pictures, here's the last two. This panel could also have been done with the center panel done first and then the two outside panels done last.
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Old 08-25-2008, 01:16 PM
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Thanks alot Dan for that quick tutorial.....it helps alot to be able to see what you are saying via showing the pictures. Makes it look like I might even be able to tackle a simple type dual colored door panel.....well maybe not....probably take me 3 or 4 attempts to get good results .
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Old 08-25-2008, 02:24 PM
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Practice with some scraps of closed cell foam, panel board, and different fabrics, and you'll get the hang of it in no time. It's not hard. Remember to lightly scuff the closed cell foam to get the shine off it. That lets the glue hold better.
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